Monday, 17 January 2011

2011 January ECME BLOG 2

ECME BLOG January 17


"The use of music and songs of the culture

in early childhood music education".


Singing is a natural way of involvement with music. Children hear the melodies and structure of the language and because music is both performance and story, songs of the culture shape a musical and cultural identity. Music offers a sense of both self and others and social groups express in their cultural activities the agreed values. (Frith 2010)

Every nation "owns" songs from its culture. It helps children to integrate in society, teaches them social customs and order, thus contributing to general persistence and continuation of culture. (Kiilu 2010)

As songs from the culture are passed on by generations the core values of a nation are expressed in the songs.


In the Netherlands, as well as in other countries, we inherited a lot of songs from past generations that we currently sing with the "under fours". Traditional songs are always very popular in the parent child groups due to the fact that parents and grandparents remember these songs from their own childhood. Many CD's with children-songs contain traditional repertoire and we frequently hear traditional songs in kindergarten and nursery homes.

In the Dutch Music on the Lap courses we use songs with melodies, harmonies and rhythms based on Western cultural tradition and we pass on songs in the nation's language.  The use of words however is sometimes out of date: (i.e. : :  :    Twee emmertjes water halen ("Get two buckets of water"), and sometimes it is not easy to explain the exact meaning of the lyrics. The lyrics, however, are often linked to education, raising children, learning things about live, becoming clean, gender differences, or learning to cope with social emotional aspects of live. Parents don't realize the significance or the psychological impact of the songs but an early childhood music teacher can give meaning to songs by offering significant and interesting activities.

Traditional songs reflect a wide range of human experiences, patterns of tradition, and beliefs that parents and (great) grand parents learned in their lives. In the music on the lap course we sing and play the song "Zo gaat de molen".  It is a circle game. The mill (molen) is going round slowly but the wings (wieken) are going fast. Children three years old can sing the song it is a group event and we all like it very much.


From Latvia (Anna Liduma) I received a report with lots of photo's indicating the way ancient singing traditions are implemented in Early Childhood Music Education. They organize concerts where parents and children sing together and children participate in playful annual singing competitions for young children. 



 In the next blog I would like to share thoughts about:

Competences of ECME teachers.

You may send your reactions to

If you have photo's for publishing in the web-blog only jpg.files will be recognised!




Frith, S. (2010) Music and identity. Questions of cultural identity. P.108-127 London: Sage Publications Inc.

Kiilu, K. (2010) The development of the concept of music education in Estonian kindergartens, 1905-2008: A historical-critical overview. Helsinki: Department of teacher education Faculty of Behavioural Sciences

Gestel van. M. (2010) Building bridges between generations Proceedings of the 29th World Conference of the International Society for Music Education, Beijing, China. 2010, ISME,


Margré van Gestel
Chair Early Childhood Music Education (ISME)

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